Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Watkins, from Fayetteville, N.C., 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) command sergeant major, shakes hands with his son, Spc. Christopher Watkins, Fayetteville, N.C., a computer systems automation specialist with the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, after the junior Watkins re-enlisted Feb. 13 at Combat Outpost Cahill, Iraq.
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
COMBAT OUTPOST CAHILL, Iraq – Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Watkins had not seen his son since he joined the Army more than two years ago.
Spc. Christopher Watkins, a computer systems automation specialist with 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, is on his first deployment. He raised his right hand and committed to serve six more years in the Army during a ceremony Feb. 13 at Combat Outpost Cahill.
His father flew from Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, to witness his son’s re-enlistment. Mike Watkins is serving in the 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) as the unit’s command sergeant major; he is on his third deployment.
“I’m very proud of my son,” Mike said. “He made his own decision to re-enlist.”
The senior Watkins has served in the military for 29 years. When asked where he and his son were from, he jokingly replied, “We’re from the United States Army.”
The father-son duo hails from Fayetteville, N.C., however, Mike’s home of record is Hollywood, Fla., and his son was born in Ideroberstien, Germany.
Putting aside a $75,000 college scholarship, Christopher decided to join the Army and follow in his father’s footsteps.
“College just wasn’t looking so good to me,” he said. “And really, I had always wanted to serve.”
Although he made the decision to serve in the military, a college degree is still in Christopher’s future plans.
“I’ve been in two years already, but I haven’t started college yet,” he said. “Going to college has always been my plan.”
The 21-year-old said he will use the Army’s assistance to get a degree in criminal justice. He is striving to join the noncommissioned officer ranks as a short term goal; his long term goal is to serve at least 20 years in the Army.
“About one percent of the U.S. population has the honor and privilege to don this uniform,” Mike said. “I give the same respect to a Soldier who comes in, does his three years then gets out, as I do the Soldier who does 20 years and retires. If the Army is not for that person, I don’t want him to stay. But if he raised his right hand and does his three years honorably; you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The 1-15th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.